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Posts Tagged ‘E.U.’

Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD SPEAKING DURING A RAMADAN IFTAR BANQUET IN HONOR OF MUSLIM CLERGYMEN, IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA, 24 AUGUST 2011. (PHOTO: SANA / EPA)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whither the European (Dis)Union?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 14, 2011

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Is significantly greater integration the surest way to prevent both the euro and even the entire European Union from

A droplet of water falls from a tap in front of the euro sculpture at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Nov.11, 2011. (Photo: Michael Probst / AP)

blowing apart? Or is EU federation–and the basic powers national governments now wield being weakened in the process–exactly the kind of radical fusion certain to send countries jealous of their sovereignty fleeing for the exits? As euro zone members now consider drastic, big-bang solutions to overcoming their currency’s crisis, leaders of all 27 EU member states find themselves grappling with the question of whether more or less Europe is necessary to safeguard the bloc’s future.

The spread of the single currency’s existential crisis–which began as a debt problem initially believed to imperil only a few small nations before expanding to shake Europe’s biggest economies to their foundations–mirrors the rising pressure posed by a similarly essential dilemma over the wider European Union project, and evoking similar denial from leaders. While most officials agree that deep and dramatic measures must be undertaken to finally contain the debt-driven euro emergency, their concord evaporates over the different options for action—especially centralization of budget and debt rules, and giving real intervention power to the European Central Bank. Central to that disagreement are clashing views over just how bound together EU members should be—a long-standing confrontation between Euroenthusiasts and Euroskeptics that has resurged in crisis anew. As such, moves to save the euro will probably shape the direction—or even future—of the entire EU as it seek a collective horizon to look toward.

News reports Nov. 10 stated France and Germany were consulting partners on potentially radical harmonization measures between euro zone members—or at least those capable of and willing to accept far stricter budgetary and fiscal rules that greater convergence would involve. If true, it suggests the euro zone’s two biggest economies are contemplating tossing unsustainably indebted currency partners out of what would become a smaller, tighter euro ship. German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied those reports, insisting scission of the euro 17 wasn’t an option. Yet her comments elsewhere indicated the status quo could not endure, either. Read the rest of this entry »

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How 9/11 Provoked the U.S. to Hasten its Own Decline

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 9, 2011

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The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building in New York, September 11, 2001. (Photo: Marty Lederhandler / AP)

During his first year in office, President George W. Bush was confronted by the key strategic challenge facing the United States in the new century, in an incident that began with the diversion of a U.S. aircraft — by Chinese fighter planes, which forced a U.S. Navy spy plane to land on the island of Hainan after a collision that downed a Chinese jets, killing its pilot. What followed was a tense 11-day standoff between Washington and Beijing, serving an early warning that China’s emergence as an economic superpower would inevitably alter the geopolitical balance of power in Asia, and globally.

But then came 9/11 — a mass-casualty terrorist provocation on an unprecedented scale — and the Bush Administration convinced itself, and much of America, that the world had changed. The new president had found his “calling” in a campaign to “rid the world of evil doers”, declaring a “war on terrorism” that would become the leitmotif and singular obsession of U.S. foreign policy for the remainder of his presidency — a presidency that despite massive, kinetic displays of military force, left the U.S. strategically weaker at its close than when Bush entered the Oval Office.

“We’d always treated terrorist attacks before primarily as a law enforcement problem… going after and finding the guilty party, bring them to trial and put them in the slammer,” Vice President Dick Cheney told TIME in an interview published in this week’s edition. “After 9/11, you couldn’t look on those as just law enforcement problems anymore. It was clearly an act of war. And that’s a significant shift. You’re going to use all of the means available…”

But while the scale and brutality of the attacks might have been akin to an act of war, 9/11 was the work of a tiny network of transnational extremists, founded on the remnants of the Arab volunteers who’d fought in the U.S.-backed Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. Read the rest of this entry »

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